There is often much media hype surrounding the benefits of green tea. But regular black tea may be just as much of a health tonic, especially when it comes to diseases like atherosclerosis. Most people are not aware that green tea and black tea are derived from the same plant, the latter being processed and fermented.
Although green tea has higher concentrations of certain biologically active ingredients, black tea has been shown to be equally effective in preventing atherosclerosis even with its lower concentration of certain ingredients. So what does this all mean? Black tea may be a useful dietary component in reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes but it should not be used as a means to replace your prescription medication.
Cholesterol and Black Tea
Atherosclerosis is a global problem and the main risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease and strokes. Fatty plaques made up of blood cholesterol intermingled with blood cells and connective tissue gradually develops in the arteries. This is often associated with a high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol and triglycerides (hyperlipidemia), diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes), obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Cigarettes smokers and people with a family history of atherosclerosis are also at a greater risk.
While black tea may not be able to counteract all these risk factors, it has shown to be beneficial in reducing the ‘bad cholesterol’ (LDL) and triglycerides. By reducing high blood cholesterol, fatty plaques in atherosclerosis are less likely to develop as fast as it normally would. Furthermore atherosclerosis arises with injury to the cells lining the artery wall. Black tea has antioxidants that counteracts the free radicals the develop with tissue injury and may decrease the likelihood of fatty plaque formation in the arteries.
Black Tea for Heart Attacks and Strokes
Narrowing of arteries supplying the heart muscle and brain are the first step towards a possible heart attack and stroke respectively While the blood supply to these organs may be reduced, it usually does not cause any major symptoms until the artery is blocked to a very large degree. The build up of fatty plaques in the artery wall occurs over years. When these fatty plaques suddenly rupture, a blood clot may then form at the narrowed point and completely block the artery.
Black tea not only aids with reducing the development of these fatty plaques but it also has properties to counteract the formation of blood clots. This can significantly reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke but just how much tea can definitively induce these effects in every person is still unclear. Much of this research has been done on mice and observing populations who are big tea drinkers. A lot more research still has to be done on these health benefits of black tea before it can be incorporated into the management of these conditions.
While you should not be throwing away your high blood pressure drugs, cholesterol-lowering and blood-thinning medication, black tea can still be incorporated into your daily regimen to score on some of the health benefits. Remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for you so it is important not to overdo the black tea. Apart from acting as a diuretic and causing excessive water and salt loss, black tea also has caffeine which can increase the heart rate. Both these effects can strain the heart and possibly complicate underlying heart disease if black tea is consumed in abnormally high amounts.